Japan Probe has this interesting post on the discrepancy between the Japanese and English versions of a Mainichi article on gaijin crime in Japan. I thought of offering a full-fledged commentary about it, but I haven't been able to find the time to do justice to this theme. So, here are some facts, and some speculation on my part.
Lesson? Go to the source, then start arguing.
1. A cursory look at the news items under the article shows that the English version headlines typically carry less information than the Japanese version, but in no other case are they completely different. This is clearly an editorial decision. Moreover, the English, as most of you who post on Japan Probe must be aware, is executed by a native English speaker who is experienced in writing headlines.
2. The article deals with Criminal Code violations by non-permanent-resident gaijin. Thus, most of the Koreans and some Chinese (Taiwanese) living in Japan are not included, nor are visa violations. The statistics are available here.
They were posted on Feb. 9. No 1991-2006 comparison is included.
3. I cannot locate any useful statistics on the length of stay on the part of non-permanent-resident gaijin. This complicates the task of determining the relative criminality (or lack thereof) on their part.
4. The Japanese version seems to repeat the original hardcopy version with little or no abridgement.
Now, some speculation:
1. Governor Ishihara will not be vocal about gaijin crime. Mr. Ishihara is pushing Tokyo as Japan's candidate for the 2016 Olympics. He certainly knows how to mould his behavior to the circumstances. Witness the thawing of his relationship with the LDP as his sons rise up through the ranks there.
2. Mainichi correspondent Kazuhiko Tohyama did not have access to a high level official on this. There was no fanfare whatsoever regarding the release of the statistics (which must be why the Yomiuri apparently missed it altogether). Besides, nobody in his right mind at the NPA would want to piss off everybody outside of Tokyo by admitting that it managed to ease pressure in Tokyo by shifting the criminal burden to the boondocks. Moreover, most of the shift should be attributable instead to the "staggering" rise in the number of non-permanent-resident workers and "trainees" who flocked to manufacturing jobs non-Tokyo Japan during the 1990s. I'm not accusing Mr. Tohyama of making it up, but it doesn't sound like the kind of explanation the NPA would want to come up with.
Sorry. I don't have any sweeping indictments or excuses available, just some facts and speculation. Oh, and if it's any consolation to my gaijin readers, I don't think that this is racism, as in a deep-seated rejection of blacks, Muslims, Jews, or what have you. It's a very human example of stereotyping and over-reacting to the "other" in a highly homogeneous society. This works both ways: witness the powerfully positive emotional focus on the South Korean student Li Su-hyun and the relative neglect of Japanese cameraman Fumihiko Sekine, two courageous men who lost their lives trying to rescue a man who had fallen on the train track. On a more historical scale, do you remember how the Japanese media (except for Sankei) toed the Chinese Communist Party line during the Cultural Revolution? Adulation turned to odium, as the realities began to surface after Mao's death.